Horizon Behavioral Health shines light on Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Leaders want people to know their residents are just like everyone else

MADISON HEIGHTS, Va. – March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, and one organization in Lynchburg is shining light on the needs of both patients and their families.

Gary Marple says his 53-year-old daughter, Lisa, was born with a nervous system disorder and has been confined to a wheelchair most of her life.

“Now she’s needing care because I’m going to be 85 [years old] this year. My wife will be 80,” said Marple.

Last year, he moved Lisa into a home owned by Horizon Behavioral Health. Marple visits his daughter frequently.

The organization operates eight facilities across Lynchburg and Madison Heights, providing 24-7 care to nearly 40 adults with developmental disabilities.

The around-the-clock treatment includes on-site physicians, dietitians, access to therapy -- even fingernail painting.

Residential Manager Amy Ferguson wants people to know their residents are just like everyone else.

“They have goals that they want to reach, just like we do. They enjoy life, just like we do. They bring a happiness to the world that is beyond compare,” said Ferguson.

Marple also wants to raise awareness about the struggles his family -- and others -- have faced over the years.

“To find a dentist, for example, is almost impossible. It’s very difficult to find the level of care that you would find at a physician’s office because there’s no feedback. You know, [those with developmental disabilities] can’t tell you where they’re hurting,” said Marple.

At the so-called ‘Horizon Homes,’ residents are there for life once they move in.

Ferguson says the care is leading to longer lives.

“The individuals are outliving their life expectancies,” said Ferguson.

When she started with Horizon in 2006, Ferguson says, the average life expectancy was about 55 years old. Now, it’s closer to 70.

It’s tender care that any parent would want for their child.

“[Lisa] will be taken care of for the rest of her life,” said Marple.

About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.